“Houston, we’ve had a problem” were the words sent from Apollo 13, which was launched for the moon APRIL 11, 1970.
Mission control identified that an oxygen tank had exploded, irreparably damaging the craft.
Special prayer services were held at the Chicago Board of Trade, at St. Peter’s Basilica by the Pope, at the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem and reported in The New York Times.
In April of 1970, President Richard Nixon had the nation observe a Day of Prayer for Apollo 13 astronauts. Even the U.S. Senate adopted a resolution urging prayer.
In sub-zero temperature, the crew pieced together an oxygen filter, jump-charged the command module batteries, and manually steered the ship to land in the ocean near a raging hurricane.
On April 19, 1970, President Richard Nixon spoke at Kawaiahao Church, the oldest Christian Church in Hawaii:
“When we learned of the safe return of our astronauts, I asked that the Nation observe a National Day of Prayer and Thanksgiving today…
This event reminded us that in these days of growing materialism, deep down there is still a great religious faith in this Nation…
I think more people prayed last week than perhaps have prayed in many years in this country…We pray for the assistance of God when…faced with…great potential tragedy.”
Two years later, April 21, 1972, Astronauts Charles Duke and John Young explored the moon’s surface during Apollo 16’s mission to the rugged highlands of the moon’s Descartes region.
On June 22, 1996, Astronaut Charles Duke spoke of this experience at a Prayer Rally during the State’s Republican Convention in Lila Cockrell Theatre, San Antonio, Texas:
“I used to say I could live ten thousand years and never have an experience as thrilling as walking on the moon. But the excitement and satisfaction of that walk doesn’t begin to compare with my walk with Jesus, a walk that lasts forever.”
In 2010, NASA was working on the Constellation program, building new rockets and spaceships capable of returning astronauts to the moon, till President Obama cancelled it.
On June 30, 2010, Administrator Charles Bolden outlined the new priorities for NASA in an interview with the Middle East News agency, Al Jazeera, in Cairo:
“When I became the NASA administrator…President Obama charged me…perhaps foremost…to find a way to reach out to the Muslim world and engage much more with dominantly Muslim nations to help them feel good.”
Though space exploration may be on hold, we cannot forget the tremendous scientific achievement, courage and faith of those who dared to go into the unknown.
William J. Federer is a nationally known speaker, best-selling author, and president of Amerisearch, Inc., a publishing company dedicated to researching America’s noble heritage.
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